Sunday, September 20, 2015

Learning a True Apology for Yom Kippur

One of my goals for EG right now is to start understanding the thoughts and processes behind an apology.  It's been an interesting road to travel down, not just within our family, but within the preschool system, the mommy wars, and the Jewish culture.

It all started a long time ago when I read "It's okay not to share, Renegade Rules for Parenting" and learned a little more about saying "I'm Sorry."  If I'm honest I hadn't given it much thought, but I had vivid memories of fights between my parents about those words.  In my mothers world, the fact that I issued the words I'm sorry meant that all was well and good.  In my fathers, those words meant nothing, and did nothing to change what ill I'd done.  With that in mind, I agreed with Heather Shumaker and decided not to force EG to say she was sorry until it meant something and she could understand what the thoughts were behind the words.

Fast forward to EG being in school for a while and she comes home and issues 'sorry's' left and right.  Just a quick little blip on the map, then moving on with her activity and day.  And that's when I really began to feel like Ms.Shumaker was right.  I don't want empty words to placate me.  However, EG had been learning this at school and it's hard to start to undo what was already done there.

So I redoubled my efforts to get EG to offer something other than empty words.  Ice or a hug when she hurt someone, help and a hand when she knocked something over.  But that didn't go over very well on the local playground.  I remember a vivid confrontation with one mother over my daughters lack of an apology.  Mind you, EG helped the boy up, offered him a turn on the swing, and otherwise was a perfect lady when it came to sorting out the problem.  But this mom only answered back with "Aren't you going to say you're sorry?"

Of course, I now realize the problem with that exchange wasn't just about saying it.  It's with a fundamental misunderstanding in our culture today between the words "I'm Sorry" and "I apologize."  These two things are fundamentally different, and this Yom Kippur I'm trying to set the record straight.

The definition of Sorry:

adjective: sorry; comparative adjective: sorrier; superlative adjective: sorriest

feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else's misfortune.


The definition of Apology:

noun: apology; plural noun: apologies
a regretful acknowledgment of an offense or failure.

Notice the big difference?  Sorry doesn't acknowledge any wrong doing on the part of the person involved.  It makes no one take responsibility for their actions and acknowledge a failure.  This could be a failure of communication, an accident, or an intentional infraction, but no matter what you caused it, and you should own up to it.

I've vowed this Yom Kippur to go beyond the surface and really get to the root of apologizing.  To teach my children that there is no shame, fear or embarrasment about acknowledging you did something wrong.  And as our children grow up one of the best things they can do as an adult is to accept their own failures, learn from them and move on. The new buzz word of the world is grit, and you can't have grit if you can't own up to your own mistakes.

So we'll be teaching EG a new way to apologize.  Starting with word choice. From now on I say the words 'I apologize' when I mean it, and 'I'm sorry' when it's appropriate. I'm helping EG to correct her word choice to.  And I'm offering up this model for her apologies:

1. I apologize for...
2. It was wrong because....
3. In the future I will...
4. Will you forgive me?
Of course, just because you apologize doesn't mean you get forgiveness.  It can sometimes take more than just a heartfelt apology to rid your heart of the anger or hurt you feel.  And EG has to learn that too.  It's all about the argument between my parents.  My mom was right that when someone truly apologizes that we should accept their apology.  My dad was right that just because you say some words it doesn't mean that my plate isn't broken anymore... Jewish talmud teaches us that you have to apologize three times to someone, to truly mean it before you can consider yourself having apologized properly and moving on without forgiveness.

If we truly see Yom Kippur as an opportunity for apologies and forgiveness then we can all take a step in the right direction this year.  I'm tired of the blanket 'if i did anything wrong, i'm sorry' approach, and I want to teach EG that she's better than that. I also believe that the heart of Yom Kippur honestly isn't about making apoligies, but rather learning to forgive.

I'm hoping that given time she will learn how to take responsibilities for her own actions, own up to the hurt she can cause others with her words and deeds, and then truly take the time to reflect and apologize.  We all know how untempered resentment can build up inside when you feel hurt or taken advantage of.  Hopefully when EG understands the steps to make amends she can make good friendships, be successful in school and work, and have lasting caring relationships.  But that may be too much to put onto one little apology....?



Monday, August 31, 2015

GeltFiend: Because it's really not to early for Chanukah...

I realize that I haven't even talked about where to go for rosh hashana, but when I got my email from geltfiend, I couldn't help but share.

For those of you out of the loop, geltfiend is a great online store that specializes in chanukah wear, specifically kitsch and sweaters.  I talked about then last year when I got the awesome sweaters for EG and me.

This year they've come out with their line even earlier, so you can have your sweater ready the moment the season hits.  My favorite piece...

Candledrip Sweater.

Isn't it awesome!  The colors, the style.  I'm totally in love.  Anyone want to buy me my first chanukah gift?

They also have everything left over from the first two years still available.  The kiddo items are so cute, and I can testify to the quality myself.

Check out the rest of the line, and their new video here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gone, but not forgotten

Hello Friends,

I'm so sorry that I've been out of touch lately.  Between trips and traveling and packing and unpacking, it's been a heck of a month out there.  It's been so hard to settle myself and the family into the new routine here in Orange County, and we're already moving out of one temporary house into another.

I'd hoped to have the launch of something wonderful with you all.  I had a plan. A few weeks of vacation, a nice transition down to the OC, then the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

But things don't always go as I plan them, do they?

So here we are, the week of my Mother's death one year later.  Here I am, strangely living in her house without her.  Watching my lovely EG get her learning to walk bumps and bruises.

Here's a note to say that I haven't forgotten about you, my internet friends, and I hope to be back to daily and weekly updates very soon.

With love,

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Five tips I'm taking from staging

When we got our house ready to sell we had to get things in order.  That meant clearing out the clutter and really trying to scale back.  In some ways it was bad (I really miss the kids playspace) but in lots of other ways it's been really good.

Here are 5 things I'll continue to do when we finally find our next house...

1. Keep cooking things off the counter. 

This isn't my counter top, (thanks gcmenezes) but it might as well have been.  We kept olive oil, salt, pepper, random spices, vinegar, etc. all on the countertop right next to the stove.  So when we were getting ready to sell all those things had to move up to to the shelf above.

This is my kitchen:

Enter the bright and sparkly, and not cluttered, countertop.  See those hanging shelves down from the upper cabinet?  Those were where my spices are.  Despite these clever storage units there was still a TON of stuff where those flowers are.  Needless to say, my realtor was not a fan- she made me clean it up.  I thought it would really drive me nuts, but it dosen't.  I just put everything in that cabinet above the countertop and put it away when I'm done.  It means a nicer workspace for all of us.

2. Put it away, immediately

I know we've heard this before, but living in a house where at any moment you could get a call from your realtor about someone wanting to stop by really drives the message home.  I wouldn't wish that stress on anyone, but it really puts it in perspective about how the little things (like really finishing a project, or only doing the things you really have time for) can impact your feelings about the house.  With things neat and tidy I had more time to spend scrapbooking, and making messes that I knew

3. Get rid of it.

A huge piece to staging is clearing out the clutter.  From piles of papers to anything else.  It's totally liberating to realize how little stuff you need.  Yes, there are things that I was missing in my life, but honestly, those things are fewer than I thought they might be.  There are tons of things that we just don't need but we own anyways.  And no, I'm not talking about Halloween decor or Maternity clothes, I'm talking about the 6 different random coffee mugs, or the cards from college that you really don't need to be hanging on to.  When you are packing, and prepping the house for sale you realize all the things you just don't need.

4. Toy Rotation/Less Toys

I've always been a fan of this idea, but it wasn't until my kiddos were living with less than a quarter of their toys, both at home most days, and still doing totally fine that I realized my kids are inundated with toys.  We had a whole playspace full of them, in addition to whats here in these photos, and they don't really miss a them almost ever.  Sure there are items they do miss (guitar anyone...?) but over the long haul it's been totally fine.  Paper, a few crayons, playdough and bubbles have kept us happy since EG stopped school in mid-June.

5. Mementos and photos make a house a home

This has been the easiest lesson to learn.  Without the things that make us who we are, it's a sad place to be in.  A house is more than a house- it's a home to you and your stuff.They moved a lot of our photos, and living without touching anything makes it a really stressful way to live.  So bake that bread, hang up that photo, and enjoy living in your home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Jewish Tooth Fairy

I can't believe that I'm writing this, I can't believe that I have a need to figure this out right now.  But I do...

This past weekend while EG was in the loving care of my happy sister-in-law she had an incident.  She jumped off the slide and, in doing so, hit her chin with her knee.  Out popped one of her front teeth.  Thank goodness my SIL & BIL are kind and patient people, who took good care of EG.  She got ice cream, tylenol and a good old fashioned helping of Elsa and Anna. The girl couldn't have been happier.  Mommy however, absolutely devastated.

It's so so so so so hard to have something bad happen to your child.  Add to that the angst of not being there to do something about it. Nothing could be worse for a mother.

And so, here I find myself, debating the merits of the Tooth Fairy.  I took the time to poll just about everyone at Comic-Con what to say.  A few of my favorite responses:

"We got letters telling us our teeth were going to needy babies.  If we didn't brush well enough then she couldn't use our teeth.  I remember once giving a tooth, but not getting any money because she told me my teeth weren't clean enough"

"We had a tooth fairy, but I'm pretty sure I knew a day after she was introduced that she wasn't real."

Of course there were lots of people who didn't have that many memories, or really just didn't care one way or the other.

In my family we each had a different tooth fairy.  While there weren't any letters, etc, my Dad did spin great stories about our tooth fairies.  They were real people, and I honestly don't ever remember being upset about knowing they were fictional.  I don't remember that moment when I found out it was all a lie.

Since EG is so young, it's not like she's inundated at school with inquiries about the tooth fairy. Unlike Santa it's not like there is an army of Tooth Fairies coming out at the same time each year.  I asked my SIL if her kiddos mentioned it, just so I could see if the die had been cast.  She said her kids did mention it, but there has been no mention of it from EG at all.

I'm not sure about having a ceremony for the whole thing, but I did want to mark the occasion somehow.  EG, she wanted me to throw the tooth in the trash.  I wonder if she will remember that thought when I show her the album that has the tooth in later years..?

Turns out that Jewish kids are a step ahead in not believing the fantasies of childhood.  (I didn't access the whole article) Or maybe a step behind if you think about it that way.  There is something magical about having these characters as part of childhood- the idea behind them.  But there is also something sad about telling our children such lies.

I think I like this take on it best, which shows that sometimes even when you've answered your child directly, they don't really take these thoughts to heart as much as we think they do.  How often does EG forget what she's had for dinner, let alone the million of things I say in a day.

I did really like the idea of having a tooth fairy to help teach and learn about flossing, brushing, etc.  The girl at the Convention (yes you phone stealer and photo snapper!) whos parents told her the teeth are used for babies certainly had good motivation for keeping her teeth clean.  And for EG getting her to brush was a nightmare.   If I can have years of good teeth maintenance for the price of $.25 a tooth then I think I'm totally up for that....

This Rabbi is convinced that it doesn't really matter, and I think I agree with him.  He's kind in saying that it's not a lie, really, it's the same thing as running away from the dinosaur under the bed.  But his insistence on not paying kids for doing nothing...?  That one dosen't sit well with me.  As a commenter points out, there is a lot of work towards keeping your teeth healthy.

I think the ending news is that we've done nothing.  She didn't see the dentist until today, and for some reason I wanted to show her the tooth.  And EG isn't interested in putting it under her pillow- as I mentioned, she wants it in the trash.

We did say the Shehecyanu prayer, which we've been saying a lot lately.  I thought it was a good way to mark the occasion.  And it was so funny when we were going to my Dad's house (Grambe) that she told us that no one was supposed to tell him.  "No one.  Shhh"

For now I'll just have my holey grin cutie.  We'll really worry about the Tooth Fairy if/when she looses another tooth and asks about it.

Do you have the tooth fairy?  Any advice?

Friday, July 10, 2015

G-d Bless In-laws

I'm witing this post on the amtrak train to San Diego's comic con.  Yup, I go to comic-con.  But the reason behind the post is because my children aren't with me.  They are with my in laws.

For the first time in forever my baby Ocho is spending the night without me.  I'm overwhelmed with nerves.  But this isn't really about Ocho, it's about EG and the fact that she wants to celebrate shabbat with her cousins...her Christian cousins.  And my wonderful sister in law are going to do it for her.

When EG first asked about shabbat I was a bit out of sorts because this was the first time I've had to tell her that her cousins don't celebrate shabbat like we do.  I never really hid this fact, but we are celebrating people who do Easter and Christmas with them and yet it doesn't really come up that they are different.  Until now.

So I talked with my sister in law and she said she was happy to share shabbat
with EG.   Next I googled 'jewish child celebrating shabbat with non-jewish inlaws'.  And least nothing good.

I'm amazed at how apparently infrequently families move beyond their comfort zones to make others happy.  There were some scary things that people talked about using that search criteria...

So here's to inclusive families. And the fact that shabbat is easy to do at home without much fuss.  

Is your child staying somewhere and wants to do shabbat?  Here are the easy directions and prayers to send along.

1.  Send along at least two candles, though in families with kids I prefer to do one candle per person.  That way everyone feels represented and included.

2. Send some challah.  This is likely the only thing that someone wouldn't have that they would need.  Plus it's nice to send bread anyways... just a lovely hand-made hostess gift.

3. Remove the stress and prep your child.  It's so important to have a conversation with the hosts about how the essence of the holiday is enjoyment, relaxation and rest.  It shouldn't be something that's hard, it should be fun.  By the same token, prep your child.  It's likely that you lead shabbat at home and here it will be up to your child to take a larger role.  Afditionally it won't be like shabbat at home is, it will be different.

4.  Send these easy instructions:

Shabbat at home:
Candle Prayer:
Transliteration: Baruch a-ta Adonoi Elo-hei-nu  me-lech. ha-o-lam.  a-sher  ki-di-sha-nu. bi-mitz-vo-tav. vi-tzi-va-noo. li-had-leek. ner shel Shabbat.

*light candles first then say prayers.  It's typical to cover your eyes as well.

Prayer over children
May God Bless you and guard you. May the light of God shine upon you, and be gracious to you. May the presence of God be with you and give you peace.

*this is usually said while holding your hands on the heads of your children.

Prayer over wine.  Baruch Ata Adonoi Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam borei porei hagafen. 

*Any wine, or grape juice, will do.  

Prayer over challah:  Baruch Ata Adonoi Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha olam hamotzi lechem  min ha aretz.  

*It's tradition to put some salt to remember the temple, and honey for a good sweet shabbat.

Here's to a good shabbat, and a restful one for you and everyone.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Women Power Parsha

Have you read this weeks Parsha?    As a mother of daughter's this is one of those parsha's that don't seem to be discussed very much, but has a profound impact upon the rights of women everywhere.  Chapter 27 is when the four righteous daughters of  Zelophehad stand up for their rights of inheritance and it's shown that sons and daughters have equal rights to what was their fathers.

Chapter 27

1The daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph, came forward, and his daughters' names were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. אוַתִּקְרַבְנָה בְּנוֹת צְלָפְחָד בֶּן חֵפֶר בֶּן גִּלְעָד בֶּן מָכִיר בֶּן מְנַשֶּׁה לְמִשְׁפְּחֹת מְנַשֶּׁה בֶן יוֹסֵף וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֹתָיו מַחְלָה נֹעָה וְחָגְלָה וּמִלְכָּה וְתִרְצָה:
2They stood before Moses and before Eleazar the kohen and before the chieftains and the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, saying, בוַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה לִפְנֵי משֶׁה וְלִפְנֵי אֶלְעָזָר הַכֹּהֵן וְלִפְנֵי הַנְּשִׂיאִם וְכָל הָעֵדָה פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד לֵאמֹר:
3"Our father died in the desert, but he was not in the assembly that banded together against the Lord in Korah's assembly, but he died for his own sin, and he had no sons. גאָבִינוּ מֵת בַּמִּדְבָּר וְהוּא לֹא הָיָה בְּתוֹךְ הָעֵדָה הַנּוֹעָדִים עַל יְהֹוָה בַּעֲדַת קֹרַח כִּי בְחֶטְאוֹ מֵת וּבָנִים לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ:
4Why should our father's name be eliminated from his family because he had no son? Give us a portion along with our father's brothers. " דלָמָּה יִגָּרַע שֵׁם אָבִינוּ מִתּוֹךְ מִשְׁפַּחְתּוֹ כִּי אֵין לוֹ בֵּן תְּנָה לָּנוּ אֲחֻזָּה בְּתוֹךְ אֲחֵי אָבִינוּ:
5So Moses brought their case before the Lord. הוַיַּקְרֵב משֶׁה אֶת מִשְׁפָּטָן לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה:

Now I'm not saying that everything is roses here.  The text goes on to say that if a man has no sons then his daughters inherit, but if he has no daughters than his brothers (not sisters) get it.  If not a brother than his uncles (not Aunts) and so on.  But I'm still going to chalk this up to a victory for women everywhere.  

This is big news.  That these five sisters banded together to come to Moses and Eleazar (not to mention the entire congregation of the meeting) and say before all that they believed they were entitled to something.  Not just something, but everything.  They didn't want to share the inheritance with their Uncles, they stood up for themselves, and women and daughters everywhere, to get what was their due.

Now I'm not going to go into the legalistic quibbles about whether these women had to marry their cousins in order to inherit (which is probably true, since we talk about that a few pages later.)  It's a moralistic quandry to be sure, but not the message I'm trying to relate.

All to often I'm talking with EG about speaking up, getting across her point and using her words.  Here five women stood amongst men to claim what was theirs.  And rightfully so.

Additionally these are five sisters (shout out to H5!) who have eachother's backs.  Imagine what would have happened if four had stood together.  That means they are really all standing apart. 

There is a special bond between sisters (love you Becca!) and I want EG to embrace that bond with Ocho.  There will be many moments of difficulty, but this torah story illustrates that it's possible to stand-up to speak up and to stand together as one.  

Now EG and Ocho aren't quite ready for this story, but I think this YouTube video sums the parsha up fairly well, and puts the focus where I think it should be- the victory of women's rights and the idea of speaking up for your self.

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